Paul Shore’s daughter was eight when they first decided to test drive an electric car.
At one point during a stop on their trip to the city, Shore looked over and saw her lying on the hood, as if hugging the car.
“I asked this eight-year-old, ‘What are you doing?’ She said, ‘It has a heartbeat!’” He recalls.
He put his ear to the hood and noticed, in a way, she was right.
The vehicle was making all sorts of subtle noises while turned off—mimicking a heartbeat.
On the drive back to their home in Whistler, he asked a few more questions. “Why were you hugging it?”
“She said, ‘Because it’s quiet and it’s not stinky.’ She had this innate connection to it without any coaching by me,” he says. “What it made me realize is young kids just get what’s easier on the planet, intuitively. I thought that could make a good, uplifting kids’ story.”
That’s where the idea for new graphic novel—cowritten with writer Deborah Katz Henriquez and illustrated by Prashant Miranda—first emerged.
Several years later, his daughter now 15, Shore and the team are celebrating the launch of their new graphic novel series, Steve and Eve Save the Planet. The first instalment of the series, I Can Hear Your Heart Beep, was released on Feb. 25. Aimed at readers aged six to 12, it follows Steve the polar bear and Eve the electric car as they head out on adventures to save the planet.
“The characters, as everybody who writes fiction says, have little bits of you or your friends or family imbued in them,” Shore says. “That’s been incredibly fun. When I read certain passages I know that’s a quirky thing about my son or about my mother, who passed away. So [you do get] attached.”
While the publication aims to be both funny and informative to kids, its authors also hoped to offer some humour for the adults. “Deborah and I reflected that some of the books we enjoyed with our kids were ones we enjoyed reading with them,” Shore says. “They had some adult humour buried into them. We’ve done quite a bit of that, but I don’t think anyone has noticed yet.”
Another detail he hopes readers will pick up is Miranda’s illustrations.
“I know I’m so biased, but this guy went above and beyond the call of duty for a kids’ novel,” Shore says. “It’s gorgeous, especially when he works in the Northern Lights.”
For his part, Shore is trained as an electrical engineer, but has written books before, including Uncorked, a travel memoir about his year in Provence, which won the 2017 Whistler Independent Book Award for Non-Fiction.
Still, after more than three years, it has been rewarding to have the graphic novel finally come out, he says.
“It’s kind of crazy, even emotional. It’s like having another child, I swear. You wondered at times if you’d ever finish this thing. It’s just sinking in as people start to talk about it,” he says.
Whistlerites will have a chance to check out the book—and take part in launch celebrations—on March 19, first with a signing at Armchair Books, followed by a reading and other events at the Whistler Public Library.
“Spreading kindness like jam on toast is the last line of the book, so we invented a game we’ll play called the jam-side-up challenge,” Shore says. “We’ll have kids spreading jam on toast and flipping the toast on a plate. The idea is you land jam-side up … [The goal is to] try new things with the expectation it’ll land jam-side up. If it lands jam-side down, that’s just life and you pick yourself up and carry on and try to get it to land jam-side up next time.”
The event takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. at Armchair Books and from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Whistler Public Library.
No registration is necessary and all ages are welcome.
For more on the book visit savetheplanetbook.com.